What is a Smart City?

Human Centered

While “The Four Levels of a Connected City” is focused on the devices and systems that power the future, it is critical to understand that this technology is really about people.

Innovation has the potential to positively impact our lives in exciting ways including increasing access to healthcare, education and financial services. Technology is contributing to cities becoming safer, more convenient, more sustainable and ultimately more enjoyable places to live for everyone.

The Device Level

Much of the buzz in smart cities is about this top and most visible layer. The Device Level includes the physical objects that you can see and touch including cameras, sensors, beacons, lighting and mobile phones. But this hardware is nothing more than paperweights on poles without the technology that enables connectivity.

The Management Level

Big Data, the Internet of Things (IoT), the Cloud… Here is where information collected at the Device Level is collected, managed, secured, stored and shared. This part is more behind-the-scenes but no less critical to a connected reality. Policy at this level will play an important part in deciding how effective smart cities can be.

The Network Level

Activity happening on the Device and Management Levels is causing online activity to skyrocket at the Network Level. Our demand for digital infrastructure has never been greater and this is just the beginning. Today we depend on 4G but these networks are becoming more and more strained. Smart city leaders are boosting capacity by placing briefcase-sized small cells throughout the city landscape – on light poles, on the sides of buildings, in kiosks, or on benches. These small cells pave the way for 5G, which will power the Internet of Things and provide dramatically faster speeds and fewer delays.

The Infrastructure Level

Small cells, fiber networks, cell towers and power grids serve as the foundation on which everything else runs. The Infrastructure Level makes connection possible.

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